“The Patiala Peg of Publishing is No More” ~ Shobhaa De
That might be so, but his writing are here to stay! This is perhaps the only book (as of now) containing one of the best and choicest of obits on Khushwant Singh. Khushwant Singh: The Legend Lives On has been edited by his son Rahul Singh. I so badly wanted to read it in one go, but the vagaries of time prevented that. So it was two or three obits, in between tea, telephone calls, lunch breaks, wife’s lectures, kids remonstrations, the boss’s calling and what not. But what a treat it was reading this book. The WOW factor is a straight 10/10.
Khushwant Singh, the man who loved to laugh at himself, never took himself seriously, was a strict disciplinarian as far as his work was concerned, masterminded the soaring publication of the “Illustrated Weekly of India”, redefined journalism, authored over 80 books, was a self proclaimed agnostic, yet deep down he was a most humane person. Page after page, obit after obit I came to know more about this “dirty old man”, through this book. There’s obituaries written about him by writers, editors, men, women , relatives and even sportsmen who at some time in their lives had the pleasure to meet him or interact with him. The Sardar from Hadali was indeed a great man. That, his persona of a being a drunkard and a womanizer was self made, was revealed to me after reading this book. But off course to write the things like Khushwant wrote (in Delhi, Company of Women or even I Shall not Hear the Nightingale) one has to a lecher, which he claims to be since he was four! Well, I ‘ll be damned, because my earliest licentious fantasies dawned on me not before I was six.
Now a few passages from the book…
Asked as to what was his religion – his answer was, “Sikho-agnostic-Iqbalism”. ~ Dr Mohinder Singh (Page 147)
His direct and irreverent style of writing demolished the barriers between him and his millions of doting readers. He never bothered to be politically correct. He was essentially iconoclastic and continued to be so until his death. His “malice” was both endearing and addictive. ~ Namita Gokhale (Page 150)
A must read is the obit by Sanjay Austa, titled “He Taught Me The Importance of Replying). Where he talks of his letters being replied by Khushwant Singh, personally. And as of today he has adopted the habit of doing this, although, people think; he is gay, is a pimp, and that he’s Vikram Kohli’s bosom buddy!
I believe this is one good book that is too hard to ignore.